Dominating the whole of the island is Mount Teide, the still active volcanic mountain that is surrounded by some of the most incredible landscape. There is only one road that takes you to the base, and then you can choose to walk to the summit or take the 8-minute cable car. I know which I prefer, but I guess I’m getting lazy in my more mature years.
The way to the summit is strangely paradoxical in so far as this barren and uncompromising landscape is so haunting and attractive. As you approach the two main cones of the centrepiece, Pico Veijo and Pico del Teide stand proudly and somewhat dauntingly in front of you. The foreground is no less interesting, and of particular note are the ostentatiously shaped lava Roques de Garcia that seem to demand crowds to assemble and photograph them, almost detracting your attention away from the equally stunning rocks of Los Azulejos. As their name implies, this stunning formation glitters blue-green in the sunlight (caused by the high copper deposits in the rock). When we first saw it, we thought we were imagining the colour because it is so vivid and so few people seemed to be observing it.
The moon-type landscape hurls itself into your consciousness as you see the craggy formation of the enormous collapsed crater. The hues of the rocks are surreal in appearance, and it will be no surprise to learn that both Planet of the Apes and Star Wars were filmed on this very terrain.
The journey to the summit cannot be described as inspiring. There are some terrific views, but after a few minutes, they become less interesting. But things become different as you disembark from the cable car. Although you can’t overlook the crater, you will be struck by the thinness of the air up here. Although there is no clear sign of volcanic activity, the pungent aroma confirms that Teide could blow at some point. After a short walk, we felt a little dizzy, but admired the view one more time, because up here the whole area truly feels volcanic and the old lava flow is evident.
On the journey from Teide, you’ll pass the sandy plateau of Las Canadas, a real contrast to the black heavily contoured lava scenery that we’d seen at the beginning of our journey.
Throughout the ride in the national park, you’ll see clear evidence of the plant life in this inhospitable environment, from ground-hugging scrub plants to the tall and curvaceous Viper’s Bugloss (to see the flowers in all their glory make sure you go to Teide between May and July).
Even as you leave Teide behind you, this park will be full of surprises, with spectacular glimpses of the sea and across the island, particularly the stark black view of the lava flow that destroyed Garachico in 1706.
Take a full day to leisurely savour the various views through this pearl of a park.